Matthew 6:22-24 (NIV) “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Jesus continues His pivot from the sin of aiming for the praises of people instead of pleasing God, through the concept of being careful about where our treasure is, to how we are to deal with worldly wealth and physical needs. But He never loses the thread that, in each of these, the key is the heart.
“A bad eye” is a Hebraism for stinginess of the heart. That is the opposite of “a good eye,” symbolizing a generous spirit that is willing to hold the wealth of this world loosely. People with a good eye see themselves as stewards of the wealth and material possessions with which God has entrusted them, and are instantly responsive when God moves them to give. Those who see themselves in this way have hearts that are full of light, because no greed or coveting darkens them – no scrambling after the things of this world, or grasping what they now have, clouds their relationship with God.
Those who are grasping and greedy easily become entirely consumed with the pursuit of more, a pursuit which replaces their love of God with a golden idol, and the love of others with the love of material things.
The draw of the things of this world is much stronger than most people are aware of or willing to admit. It often masks itself as a quest for security, believing that just a little more will be all that is necessary to provide for the future, or to make one’s present more secure. But in the end, the pursuit and acquisition of more money or more stuff provides no real security. In fact, more time and energy must now be spent protecting and maintaining what has been obtained so that it will not be damaged or lost.
A person with a bad eye, a grasping heart, may gain the world, but will ultimately lose his or her soul (Matthew 16:26), because no one can successfully serve God and allow the mastery of wealth and “stuff” into their lives. Only one of those can ultimately be served, and, since our hearts will make the decision, they often give in to the mastery of the material over serving God.
The way of the kingdom is to trust God to provide what is truly needed, and to look to Him for security and well-being. If we as God’s people will be content with what He provides, with living simply and generously, and refusing to give in to the continual quest for more, then we will have hearts that are full of light, and lives that will be a continual conduit of His grace and blessing.
Father, we live in a society that urges us to give in to the mastery of material things, with advertising on every side urging us to join the quest for more or better, or whatever the latest happens to be. Help me to have a heart that is so single-minded in its focus on You and Your grace that no temptation of the things of this world can find any toehold in it. Amen.